If you’ve ever visited New York City during the holidays, chances are you’ve visited Union Square’s Holiday Market. But what you probably didn’t know is that the Union Square Partnership keeps the area around 14th Street vibrant and thriving all year round. I recently spoke with Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership, about their work.
Tell us a little bit about the Union Square Partnership.
Well, the Partnership just celebrated its 40th anniversary this past year. We’re a nonprofit organization, and our mission is to create a warm, welcoming environment for everyone who lives, works, and visits the square. We create partnerships that benefit the neighborhood, including our member businesses, and residents.
Who are some of your members?
Restaurateur Danny Meyers is one of the founding members. He really championed this idea that investing in the community where your business is located, will benefit your business. He’s always been a huge supporter of our work in Union Square Park. Our other key partners include Con Edison, New York University, the New School, the Vineyard Theatre, and Civic Hall, as well as the countless retailers and eateries around the Square. We bring our partners together for various events throughout the year, and look forward to welcoming our new WeWork colleagues at our upcoming events.
Besides the Union Square Holiday Market, what are some of your favorite events that happen at Union Square?
My absolute favorite event of the year is Harvest in the Square, which takes place every September. The revenue we generate goes to landscaping and the beautification of the park. The event showcases the 50 best restaurants in the area, from Blue Water Grill to Union Square Cafe to newer restaurants like Florian, Cava Grill, and Union Fare. It’s a way of highlighting Union Square as a destination for all things food.
Over the summer months, we host nine weeks of free community programming as part of Summer in the Square. The program including morning and evening fitness classes, children’s’ performances and activities, dance, music, theater, as well as movie nights. We partner with dozens of member businesses―for example, Paragon Sports, which leads our summer run club.
Our next big event in February is our third annual health and wellness festival―the Union Square Sweat Fest. The week’s opening event at the W New York-Union Square is a partnership with SoundOff, who are providing a guided yoga class accompanied by a DJ. Our closing event takes place at Project Farmhouse, led by internationally renowned yoga teacher Kat Fowler of Yoga Vida fame.
What are some surprising things that people might not know about Union Square Park?
Most people don’t realize Union Square Park is supported directly through contributions from the community. Many of the property owners and major tenants surrounding the park financially support our work in the park and in our public plaza. We love what we do and it’s truly gratifying when spring comes, and we begin rolling out all our seasonal programs.
We also love being a WeWork member, and the feeling of energy and excitement at the WeWork location on Irving Place. Being a part this community has infused our own work with a new energy and urgency.
How can people learn more about what you’re doing?
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